Interview With Anthony Nichols, Meliah Rage Guitarist by EC

Brian and his buddySo what have you been doing during the band's big hiatus, what had you been doing before this new album came out?

Anthony - Well, whatever other freaking heavy metal guy was doing from 1987 until 1993 that had a deal.

(Laughing) Let me guess...sheetrock?

Anthony - Actually I own a company called Movie King, we do video rental and a lot of adult rental. Yeah, I actually put all of my money into smarter things. So I own a company called Movie King, but it isn't what I really do. I like playing guitar. You know Jim and I, we ride Harleys, and we literally just took two years and hit the road and rode our bikes. I think I did 30,000 miles in fifteen months.

So what made you get back into the studio and try this again?

Anthony - You know we never really officially broke up. In the late 80s and early 90s when the band was there, we had the whole big deal go shabang. Like everyone else we got dropped when grunge came in. We did demos in the 90s to get another deal. We never really got the deal we wanted, so we did the record in '96 to no response. Grunge was dying and then the rap metal was coming in, and then five years go by and we hear that metal is making a comeback, so here we are.

What were you listening to during that time off away from the band? Were you listening to new bands or just the old stuff?

Anthony - I don't listen to much. I'm not one of those guys that cranks tunes all the time. Probably the old stuff, I'm from the late 70s, early 80s. My parents were listening to The Beatles and I was listening to Deep Purple and Ted Nugent, and now the kids are listening to Korn or whatever, so you know I'm always gonna have my Riot "Fire Down Under" album or "Master Of Puppets".

Now is it hard getting familiar with each other again? Is this a tight-knit situation or a long distance relationship?

Anthony - Well, the band is spread apart. One guy lives in Rhode Island, one guy lives in New Hampshire, and three of us live in Massachusetts. But in New England the states are small so we aren't that far. Probably 80 miles apart. When you get in your late 30s people need space, we all have houses and stuff.

Are you going to be playing some shows in support of the new album?

Anthony - Yes, definitely. We've been doing some odds and ends things. We played the Metal Fest in Chicago last summer, odds and ends in New England. They are working on getting us to play Germany 10-14 days later this year. Doing the Northeast and Canada, and next year we are doing May through August straight on the road, never seeing home.

Did you think during your time away from the band that you would see these opportunities again, playing shows and touring in other countries?

Anthony - Yeah, I knew that there would be a buzz for it again. People have been asking us for years to do another album. We would get calls all the time. It didn't feel right, the juice has to be there. We didn't want to do it half ass. The juice is there now. We see bands like Metal Church, Death Angel, and Exodus doing it now. There are some bands doing it well now, with the styles that we like. Iced Earth and of course Annihilator is still kicking. I don't think you are going to see bands sell 400,000 copies. I love metal, I love power metal, and we're happy to do it.

Let's talk a little bit about that new record, "Barely Human", available now through Screaming Ferret Wreckords. Amazing album, it's really cool...

Anthony - ...you like it better than the last person I talked too. The German guy I talked to today said he didn't like it as much as our last record. That's cool though, you can say whatever you want.

Wow. Well to me it was just what I was looking for this year, I didn't want it to be completely full speed, chugging along, with over the top vocals. You've slowed it down a little bit and have added a lot more dynamics to it...added some melody, and I like that. I really do.

Anthony - I think we've always had dynamics in our songs. Do you have "Solitary Solitude"?

No I am missing that and have no way of getting it.

Anthony - There is a song on there called "Deliver Me" that sounds a lot like "Hell Song", so we have done odds and ends like that before.

With the new record you guys have a new vocalist (Paul Souza). Where did you meet him at, and how did he get involved?

Anthony - I have known Paul for 10 years. We've recorded on the side, worked with him on side projects. Paul is the man, not even a question when Mike decided not to do it. He can sing, he's a fucking 6'4" bad ass, he is smart, and you know Mike had a bad ass presence and everyone wanted to know how we could replace him. Paul is the guy. We weren't trying to get a clone. You want someone with charisma. We negotiated for about two months with Mike, and we had the whole thing written, and he had the tapes. He is married and has two kids now, so he couldn't commit to touring. So that was the end of Mike.

With these songs on "Barely Human", are any of these from the past...

Anthony - ...no, all new. All of them are new. There might be a riff or something from my catalog. I have things I keep around, but a majority of these are within the last 18 months.

The band has filmed a video for the title track, "Barely Human", for a horror film. Tell me a little bit about that.

Anthony - How it happened...the label hooked us up with it. I really have no idea how it happened. They told us where to show up at. It was on the set of this independent movie called "God Of Vampires". So we rolled into where they are shooting the movie. They have those little things where the camera rolls around the track, which was really cool. I don't know much about how they make movies or videos or anything like that. Again they just tell you where to show up and you show up. I don't know much about the movie, it isn't out yet. We were only there one day, and they shot all of the extra stuff the next day. I just make records. When I am in the studio I have a book detailing everything that is going on. When it comes to videos I am totally dumb, I have no idea what is going on.

"I'll bet I drank 400 beers that day, and then went to do that interview and I was completely hammered. I mean hammered..."
It's cool that you got the video, it should give you some more exposure.

Anthony - Yeah, we weren't complaining. We aren't on CBS anymore and don't have $100,000 to make a video with. I guess they gave us a good deal. They will have some scenes from the movie in the video and we will have a song on the soundtrack.

With the release of "Barely Human", the record also has a second disc featuring the album "Unfinished Business". Why did you do that?

Anthony - I didn't do it. I was told after it was already pressed...

...Oh so you never had a clue...

Anthony - ...I had no clue. If they had asked me before hand I would have said no way. But in all fairness to the label, they have done great things for us and they are out to make a buck. Again it is not 1989 where we are going to sell 300,000 records, so if they want to do that and sell some records so be it. I told them next time if they want a bonus disc let me know and we can do something. A live DVD or something like that.

Do you think this hurts the merit of the new record?

Anthony - You know it's really hard to say. What's done is done. Again, if I had my choice it wouldn't be on there, at least not for this pressing.

Did you know they were putting that interview on there as well?

Anthony - How that happened was they wanted to do an interview, they always want a bonus or something these days. I said fine. That day I did the interview I did a motorcycle run, where you end up with 10,000 bikes at someone's house. I'll bet I drank 400 beers that day, and then went to do that interview and I was completely hammered. I mean hammered, I don't remember a thing about it. I was lit. So was I into that? No.

Is "Barely Human" a one-off record, or do you plan on recording another one?

Anthony - We start recording October 10th. So next summer when we tour for four months straight we will have a new record out. We are going to have so much control, and everything is going to be so tight from artwork to songwriting. Everything will be crisp the way we want it. I know it's early, but the new album is going to fucking rock. I like "Barely Human", but it doesn't hold a candle to the new one. The studio guys have looked at us and just said, "where the hell did you get these tunes?". I don't know what you do, but sometimes people just get on a roll.

Will this new album come out on Screaming Ferret?

Anthony - Yeah, it will be on there. I think we have a legal obligation to them.

How does "Barely Human" compare to the older records?

Anthony - I think it fits right in, power metal with some speed thrown in and like you said, a little twist here and there. It's not like Exodus where every track just punches you in the face. Paul can really sing, and we want to use him without sounding too pussy. There is a fine line. I like the songs on "Barely Human".

I think the album is great...

Anthony - ...what's your favorite tune?

I really like "Motor-Psycho". I really like the instrumental a lot, reminds me of new wave stuff. I like the two slower tunes on there too. I like the opening track..."Hate Machine".

Anthony - Yeah, we really wanted to make that a video, but it has two F-bombs in it, and it's thirty seconds too long. We couldn't figure out where to cut it. That is the problem with videos, you have to keep it under four minutes.

Any chance for the "Barely Human" video to make Headbanger's Ball.

Anthony - Yeah, that is in the works now. That is the reason we did it. We are working on a second video now.

Which track are you doing?

Anthony - Well that is the problem We have to keep it under four minutes. We like "Hate Macine", but the two F-bombs keep it from happening. No one is into going in and deleting them. I like "Invincible", but some people think it is too fast, and it has that big intro and we would have to get rid of it. "Hate Machine" seems like the one, but I just don't know. The two F-words are coming back to haunt us.

What is the Boston scene like these days?

Anthony - Man, I couldn't even tell you. You know when you are 22 you are checking out your friend's bands, and back then we had Wargasm and on the poser side Extreme was coming up. That is all gone now. The clubs are gone as far as metal. Shadow's Fall does really well, but they aren't really from Boston. They are like 50 minutes out of town. Again, getting older you don't hit the clubs like you did when you were younger.

You mentioned Shadow's Fall, and that was one of the bands I was going to ask you about. What do you think about the new American scene with those guys and Killswitch Engage, In Flames, Lamb Of God, that type of sound?

Anthony - Don't know a thing about them. On my Mother's...she isn't dead yet...when she gets a grave, I couldn't name one tune of their's. Not that I have anything against them, but like I said what gets in my CD player is older stuff like the first Metal Church. When I am in my car I listen to Red Sox talk all day. I'm a Red Sox junkie.

I'm a Cubs fan so we are in the same boat.

Anthony - Oh yeah, I'm not sure which is worse.

Well that is all I have. It's been great talking to you.

Anthony - Let me say it is indeed my pleasure to talk to someone from America.

Anthony NicholsEric Compton11/5/2004

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